Lisbon Valley Mine gears up to reopen after closure in March at the beginning of COVID-19
Lisbon Valley Mining Company is making plans to return to operation near the start of the fourth quarter of this year. The mining company is planning to hire 50 employees immediately, with the potential employee base of 95 by December 2021.
George Shaw, Chairman of the Board for Lisbon Valley Mining Company, spoke to the San Juan County Commission at their meeting on September 1.
Shaw says the mine had a difficult experience with the economic fallout of COVID-19. Additional woes for the company include low copper prices over the past several years, mostly due to trade disputes.
Shaw says copper prices have rebounded and that over the summer they’ve been working to secure financing to ramp up mine productions again.
He says they found an interested party and have spent the last eight to 12 weeks going over due diligence to complete the transaction. Shaw says they hope to complete the transaction in the next 30 to 60 days.
He says one key to securing the funding is finalizing a payment structure with the county for nearly two million dollars in taxes owed to San Juan County.
From 2015 through 2019, the mine racked up a total outstanding tax liability of $1.7 million. At the September 1 meeting, the mine company came to the county commission to come to an agreement about how to pay the taxes they owe in order to begin operations again.
The mine company asked the county to waive penalties and accrued interest which had occurred over the past five years in an amount that totaled $311,000. At the same time, the agreement set up a payment plan for the mine company.
The company would make 60 monthly payments of $24,000 to cover the remaining $1.4 million the mine company owes.
The agreement also had a clause that if the Lisbon Valley Mine Company defaulted, the result would be a restatement of the $311,000 waived fees.
At the meeting, County Commissioner Willie Grayeyes asked County Administrator Mack McDonald if the county would benefit overall from waiving the fees.
McDonald explained three benefits, including an immediate benefit of 50 jobs, which means 50 taxpayers and 50 families helped in the area, and a potential for 95 jobs.
McDonald added that if the company were to overall go bankrupt, the tax revenue from the company would cease.
He also pointed to the fact that the company is willing to come back to the table with San Juan County and make good on the taxes owed, minus fees and penalties.
“Overall the county would be in a better position, not only receiving the tax, but also the employee base, which I think may be more important than [the tax].”
The council voted unanimously to approve the payment restructure and allow Lisbon Valley Mining Company to be permitted to begin operations.